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The Best Tips for Betting on the Grand National

Last updated: January 13, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

The Grand National is one of the most talked-about steeplechase races in the world of horseracing and the richest jump race in European horseracing. In 2021, it carried a prize purse of £750,000 and has been known to carry upwards of £1 million in recent years. 

It’s also a race that captures the imagination of the British public, with millions placing wagers who wouldn’t usually entertain horse racing bets at any other time of the year. 

If you are intrigued by the grandeur of the Grand National, and you want to know what it takes to pick a winner from a field of 40+ horses racing over 30 fences and two laps of the Aintree Racecourse, you’ve come to the right place. 

Picture of horses racing at the Grand Nationals

Eight best tips you need for betting on the Grand National

The Grand National is one of the most popular horse races in the world, and it is also one of the most difficult to bet on. There are so many factors to consider when making a prediction, from the horses’ form to the course conditions.

Here are eight essential tips all gamblers should consider before betting on the Grand National.

1. Steer clear of those carrying top weight 

As the Grand National is a handicapped race, weights are involved to try and make the race as competitive as possible. The race handicappers determine which horses carry the heaviest weights based on each entrant’s rating. 

The top-rated horses typically carry the highest weight. As the race is such a stiff test of stamina and heart, it can be very hard for horses carrying top weight to stay the course. Only Red Rum has managed to win the Grand National carrying top weight since 1936. 

Tiger Roll’s owner, Michael O’Leary, pulled him out of the 2021 National in protest at the race handicapper’s rating and recommended weighting for the two-time National winner. 

2. Take advantage of free wagers to maximize your potential winnings 

Although the Grand National typically lacks short-priced favorites in the ante-post markets, you can still maximize your picks’ odds and potential payouts. 

Make sure you avail yourself of all the latest free horse bets ahead of the Grand National. Most online sportsbooks will have new customer promotions, encouraging you to sign up before the big day and place a wager. 

You’ll often get free bets on the Grand National just for becoming a new member, although some promotions may require you to make a real-money deposit upfront to activate any free bets. 

3. Look out for entrants that have raced – and won – at Aintree before 

Although it’s been known for first-timers at Aintree to triumph in the Grand National, historical data suggests that those who have raced and won around Aintree in the past stand a greater chance. 

Many National winners have either won at Aintree or entered races that were at least three miles long. 

Any Group 1 race winners should also be thrown into the equation, as they are clearly capable of performing on the biggest stage.

4. Class often prevails at the Grand National

As you know, race handicappers give top-weight to the entrant with the highest official rating. You might think that this extra weight gives lower-rated horses a fighting chance of outlasting the top-rated horses at Aintree. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

In fact, since 1999, just two horses ranked between 28th and 40th in the official ratings of Grand National entrants have won. This is another easy filter to bear in mind for your 2022 Grand National selections. Remove horses numbered 28-40 from your list and focus on the top 27 only.

Picture of horses racing at the Grand Nationals

5. Horses aged 9-12 are said to have peak stamina for the Grand National 

Age is one of the most defining characteristics of potential Grand National winners. Very few thoroughbreds have the stamina to prevail around Aintree until the age of nine. 

The peak range appears to be between nine and 12 years old, with horses aged 13 typically losing their strength and stamina by this stage of their careers. 

It’s by no means all about speed in the Grand National. If you want to filter potential winners at the 2022 Grand National quickly, the easiest task would be to exclusively highlight runners aged nine to 12 years old.

Having acceleration and the ability to race prominently can certainly improve your selection’s Grand National chances, though. Due to the sheer size of the field at the Grand National, it can be very difficult – sometimes impossible – for a horse to negotiate their way from the back of the pack to the front.

Prominent front-runners in the Grand National also benefit from negotiating each fence with relatively “clean air” without the threat of being touched by a fellow horse.

It’s been said that since 1999, horses that have raced toward the front of the Grand National have a 17% strike rate to win or place in the race. That compares favorably to an 8% strike rate to win or place among horses held up at the rear from the outset.

6. Keep a close eye on the going at Aintree Racecourse 

The going at the Aintree Racecourse can make or break potential winners of the Grand National. Some horses will prefer good ground, while others may prefer a softer cut in the ground. 

In the days leading up to the race, be sure to check the likely weather conditions at Aintree and make a judgment call on the probable going of the racecourse. If your picks aren’t likely to enjoy the probable going, you may wish to steer clear of placing your wagers or pinpoint a more credible alternative.

7. Avoid betting each-way on the Grand National

This may result in some risk-averse bettors raising their eyebrows, but it’s a good idea to avoid backing horses each way (to win or place) in the National. Sure, some sportsbooks will extend the number of places they pay out on each-way wagers, but you will only be paid out at a fifth of the starting price odds.

Instead, it would be best if you looked to spread your risk by betting on a few contenders to win outright. Split your betting budget to back each horse outright. Not only does this make things a little more exciting when you do make the right call, but you’ll also be paid out in full at the odds you back.

8. Familiarize yourself with the fractional odds system

If you are betting on the Grand National, the chances are you will need to wager with a UK-licensed sportsbook or a sportsbook based elsewhere in Europe.

Most UK sportsbooks use the fractional odds system instead of the American odds system. If you’re unfamiliar with how fractional odds work, let’s look at a couple of examples:

Horse A

Horse A is priced at 10/1 to win the Grand National. This means that for every $1 you wager, you’ll win $10 if your selection wins.

American odds at fractional odds of 10/1 are priced at +1000.

Horse B

Horse B is priced at 8/11 to be placed in the Grand National. This means that for every $11 you wager, you’ll win $8 if your selection is placed or better.

American odds at fractional odds of 8/11 are priced at -138.


Picking a winner in the Grand National is by no means an exact science, but the leading tipsters and bettors will use the above techniques to refine their search. 

Either way, if you are considering placing a wager on the 2022 Grand National, make sure you only wager what you can afford to lose. It’s extremely challenging to pick winners in steeplechase racing.